When it comes to sexual orientation, it is common knowledge that sexuality isn’t a choice. But sexuality is more than just what gender(s) we’re attracted to. Sexuality is your core desires. It is not just who you’re attracted to, but also how you wish to express that love and attraction within your relationships. Just like with sexual orientation, there is also a spectrum in regards to how monogamous or non-monogamous you desire to be. This is fluid and can vary depending on where you are in your life, just as your sexual preferences can evolve and change over time.

I am arguing that we are not in control of our core desires; we are in control of what we choose to do with them. One can’t help wanting to have multiple partners which, if acted upon, would be polyamory. One can also not help wanting to have one romantic partner and multiple sexual partners, which could be acted upon through swinging. One can also not help wanting to be completely monogamous. Our desires aren’t a choice. Most of our society has become tolerant to the fact that people can marry someone of the same gender because they can’t help who they love. There’s really no difference, except the fact that homosexuality has been more normalized because we are more exposed to it.

The Criticism

When I bring up the topic of open relationships or polyamory in conversation, it’s quickly met with people completely dismissing it, by saying things like:

  • “I could never do that!”
  • “That’s so weird.”
  • “That sounds horrible.”
  • “That’s just a way to have your cake and eat it too.”
  • “This is just a phase, it’ll never work out…”

Or people try to justify someone not wanting monogamy by saying things like:

  • “Are their parents still together?”
  • “Their ex must have broken their heart.”
  • “They’re scared of commitment.”
  • “They must be doing that so their partner doesn’t leave them.”

The Reality

It may seem “natural” to want monogamous relationships, but that’s only because that may be what you desire, and society has reinforced that idea. From the time you were born, you were sold the idea that monogamy is the only option. We are told that if someone devotes themselves to only you, then you will be complete. Anything besides that, means you aren’t good enough. This idea benefits the government, the entire marriage industry, and keeps us with limited options.

As we become more tolerant of sexual orientation, we must become more tolerant of the kind of relationships people choose to express them in. If we don’t, then we are still not free to be who we are.

Why is sexual orientation so much different from relationship preference? People don’t choose to prefer a polyamorous or open relationship – that kind of self expression comes with consequences. Their partner could leave them, they may not be able to find a partner (or partners) who want to be in that kind of relationship, they could be shunned by their family, friends, and colleagues, and much more. Why would someone choose to go against what they have been taught their whole lives if it wasn’t an integral part of who they are?